The next generation of extended stay concepts

Kilian Vollbach By Kilian Vollbach
Uploaded 12 February 2019

Kilian Vollbach of HoCoSo brings us a summary of the development workshop staged at this year's SAS RECHARGE event in Berlin.

Mindsets are changing, consumer behaviors are developing, and the extended-stay sector is adjusting. At SAS Recharge, the sector's most boundary-pushing conference, delegates came together to discuss the latest trends, developments and innovations.

The conference agenda facilitated a 'think-tank session' to trigger the collective force of the delegates' creative minds and to come up with must have considerations for the next generation of extended-stay experiences.

Concept ideas that anticipate consumer trends and cater to the new way of traveling were generated. Here are some of the highlight.
   
The workshop was hosted by HoCoSo, a consultancy that specialises in the creation of innovative hospitality concepts. Jonathan Humphries (HoCoSo's founder) and Kilian Vollbach (HoCoSo's concept development coordinator) kicked off the workshop by introducing three distinct traveller profiles that embrace the new way of traveling.

These three travellers do not align through their job, age or nationality with each other. What aligns them is their mindset and their drive to experience the most in life.

One of the presented characters was Yuto, a 42-year-old Japanese journalist. Yuto travels the world, writes and publishes journals. His hope to encounter authentic places and people during his travels is often troubled; he experiences pain points and difficulties, such as meeting locals and other like-minded people. Finding authentic places to have dinner, or finding someone to have dinner with can be a struggle for him.

Yuto, our global nomad, resembles a rapidly growing and sophisticated traveller segment that is no longer bound to any location, has a high spending pattern and is always out for the experience. By 2022, and estimated 1.9 billion workers will be globally mobile, comprising 43 per cent of the global workforce (Strategy analytics, 2016); and by 2030 the global middle-class is expected to double to 4.9 billion people (OECD, 2019). These forecasts show how rapidly this travel segment is growing.

With Yuto's desires and pain points in mind, 130 senior delegates were tasked with creating a fictional Recharge concept. Split into smaller "huddle groups", delegates brainstormed and developed concept ideas on specific touch points of Yuto's customer journey.

The "huddle group" discussions were guided by experts on the specific topic and concluded with the top two recommendations for the fictional Recharge concept.

Public Spaces: Huddle group leader of public spaces, Guy Nixon (founder & CEO, Native) explained how Yuto is experiencing the public spaces as he is entering the Recharge concept. The Recharge concept boasts public spaces were community and gatherings can easily happen. Yuto is experiencing a place of great energy that is created through its authentic design, a perfect place for Yuto to meet locals in a stimulating environment.

Services & Operations: Georgios Ganitis (regional general manager Europe, Adina Apartment Hotels) explained that the Recharge concept reinterprets the role of the concierge and its staff. A face is given to all employees. At the Recharge concept, Yuto gets to know who is cleaning his room and is able to communicate his preferences to the housekeeper.

Room Design: Janice Mitten (partner & head of business development, Dexter Moren Associates) presented how the Recharge concept maximises the usability of the room and innovates the room through placing an interactive life wall into the room. This multimedia tool enables Yuto to design his own wall. He may choose from different wall-papers or can stream his favourite show on this life wall.

Technology: Further technology highlights were opened by Séverine Obertelli (head of sales and marketing - EMEA, Maxxton). Yuto's needs can be foreseen by the means of Artificial Intelligence. Hence, his customer experience is enriched. The utilisation of technology in the concept is, however, done discreetly along the credo: the best technology is the one that you don't see.

Networks in the Neighbourhood: The fictional concept benefits from its network, as Chalana Perera (development manager, YAYS Concierged Boutique Apartments), - explains that the concept will enable Yuto to communicate with other guests through a groups on social media apps such as WhatsApp, which eliminates the difficulty for him to meet like-minded people. Further, Yuto can find secret hot-spots through the locally sourced 24-hour concierge.

Sustainability: The Recharge concept is completely sustainable. Jouke Baimaa (director, Corporate Housing Factory) explains that sustainable practices throughout all operations and the use of modern techniques, such as sensors that recognise when doors or windows open and close, help to reduce energy consumption.

The guest experience created by the Recharge concept truly convinced Yuto. But did it also convince the investors?

Investor considerations were represented by Navneet Bali (chairman, Meininger) during the workshop, who highlighted that investors will want to see a stabilised EBITDA relative to cost per square metre. A scalable proof of concept through concept testing is a prerequisite to secure the interest of investors.

If these must-haves are considered, the fictional Recharge concept may attract real guests and investors in future.

A special thanks goes to all the "huddle group" leaders and the SAS RECHARGE 2019 delegates for their creative input - a team effort that will propel the sector further forward.

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